Problem: I don’t even know what has caused this problem but my wife and I are not able to get along right now. We have been together for over 20 years, and I did not know she was so unhappy with our relationship. She really has not been a wife who complained all the time. Every now and then she would say something and we would get past it.

She says all I do is talk about everything that is wrong and she is tired of trying to help me get over my negative way of seeing things. I did not know that I was just talking about negative things. I thought I was problem solving and she was sharing what she thought. The fact is I did not know that I was negative, if you want the truth. My wife is an optimistic person who seems to have a sunny disposition. Until lately, I did not know that we had a problem.

I don’t want to split up over this problem, but that is where I see things headed. How are we supposed to get along if she is tired of the way I communicate and can’t stand to be around me? Right now I am just lost and feel pretty alone. How does a person get over the way they think and communicate?

Discussion: I think that you have just expressed what your wife is talking about.

If you think in terms of things not working out, would that make you less likely to seek a solution? If your wife has been bracing you up all these years, she is clearly saying it is time for a change. Can you imagine what it would be like to have someone think that it is not going to work, and you having to try to help them get to a solution? It seems to me that it would be very tiring to be in that kind of relationship. You might even feel overwhelmed trying to help someone work through things for many years and have them still thinking and talking the same way.

I find that most people who do think in a somewhat down way, do not know that they are negative. Usually there is a partner in life who helps them to see things differently. This may not sound like anything more than most marriages, but the truth is the person that is the helper can get overwhelmed and tired of doing their supposed work. I do not have the details of your marriage at this point, except I am hearing you say that this is leading to divorce. You are wanting to know what to do. I think the obvious answer is change. You both need to change and adopt a different problem solving style and communication interaction. If she had said something early on, rather than 20 years later, it would have been helpful. She did not and we do not know her reasoning. If you want to have a better marriage and one that works, you must make changes. If you are thinking of a solution to trying to work things through, you might seek help for yourself, which would likely include counseling. If your wife took part in the process, it would be even more helpful.

If you have been a couple for over 20 years, there must have been something that kept you together. Evaluate and think about yourself and ways you can make changes that are more compatible with what she is saying. Look at the strengths of the marriage and begin to work on whatever it takes to make things better. Do not give up, a good marriage is worth having, but you really have to do your part and she is only responsible for hers.

To submit problems, contact Juanita Sanchez, psychotherapist, by email at or contact High Plains Journal.

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